When the pandemic began in 2020, many utility companies became aware of the weakness in which slow digitization had left them to bask. An example of this negative trend is the Italian water sector: a field not pressured by the challenges of the free market, in which investments in digital innovation are the lowest in the entire utility sector. This has created a contrast between the offer of obsolete services and administrative practices and the digitization loudly demanded by end customers, who are no longer satisfied with the old methods. Today a digital revolution for the water sector is mandatory, and OnBoarding Funnel can help in the process.
The Italian water sector: a delayed development
According to the Utilitatis Orange Book 2018, between 2015 and 2017 in Italy the water sector had the lowest percentage of investments in digital technologies. The situation, unfortunately, didn’t change in subsequent years – partly due to a lack of infrastructures and partly to low digital-related industry standards that are difficult to raise in a de facto non-competitive situation – and was revealed in all its drama during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an emergency in which digital infrastructures have allowed companies to continue offering services to end customers, the lack of investment in the water sector has been acutely felt.
The customers now demand change
Consequently, if the water sector had already lagged behind, after the pandemic the gap with respect to other markets in the utility world has become dramatic. And this fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by end-customers, who can take advantage of state-of-the-art services for all other utility supplies but are twenty years behind when it comes to managing their water services.
Where in the electricity sector, for example, it is possible to choose between different companies that offer apps for controlling bills, services to help save, digital self-services in which almost every aspect is in the hands of the end-user, in the water sector, on the other hand, it is not uncommon to still being forced to go to physical counters for commercial operations such as transfers, or changes in profile and tariff. This factor has been even more decisive during the lockdown, where the few digital infrastructures already existing proved to be backward and not very smart, and now, in the moment of recovery, they have become an unbearable nuisance for users, who consider them a waste of time and an unacceptable market delay.
Fortunately, companies faced with this new landscape have decided for a change, embracing the turning point and triggering a race to digital, starting first from the corporate culture to touch on technological innovation and the adoption of updated services, more in line with the times.
What seems to be crucial alongside the adoption of technologies such as Big Data analysis, Artificial Intelligence, cloud technologies and the Internet of Things, are simplified methods for communicating with end customers, as:
– the adoption of simplified and end-to-end administrative practices, for example through mobile apps and chatbots available 24/7 to offer real-time information in the event of outages, supply interruptions and recovery times;
– the use of online spaces and web areas dedicated to users, to allow self-managed procedures;
– the exploitation of digital technology to enhance customer service, such as platforms dedicated to advising on water saving and on how to keep the bill under control.
These practices bring double benefits because they make customers happy by allowing them to independently manage operations, giving them control over consumption and bills, and at the same time help companies to optimize work and save resources. On top of these improvement opportunities, there is the enormous field of big data: as for all companies in the utility world, the water sector creates a considerable amount of data; by implementing new methods to analyse, study and use big data, companies can create more tailored services, increasing user satisfaction and thus ensuring a long and bright future.
It’s time to act, and OBF can help water companies do it
It is not often that we know exactly what customers want, but in the current landscape, water companies are lucky enough to be in this position: users are clamouring for new digital tools and services that bring the sector up to date. And the time has come to act and choose tools that are allies in this new era of digitization of the water market, both in Italy and in the rest of the world.
Within this new need, we have a tool that is right for you: OnBoarding Funnel has already been chosen by many companies in the utility sector to facilitate their digitization and offer end-customers truly unforgettable sales and purchase experiences. Thanks to its modular system, OnBoarding Funnel adapts to all types of needs and facilitates both the communication between customers and the company, making assistance services and virtual commercial operations easy, and the creation of an optimized workflow on the company side, by organizing the commercial back-office and sharing information to the entire corporate work team.
Are you a manager of the water sector and you would like to enhance the digitization of your company? Find out what OnBoarding Funnel can do for you, contact us for information or request your free demo now!